Due to the couple of poor reviews of the Simon Vance version I thought this might be a good opportunity to check out the Patrick Tull narration of this book which received some good reviews.
Frankly I’m shocked by the couple of bad reviews of the Simon Vance version. Letter of the Marque (Simon Vance version) is one of the most rewarding books I have listened to so far in the Aubrey-Maturin Series (perhaps THE most rewarding book I have listened to).
However this book does not stand on its own. I could understand someone perhaps picking this up a few months or more after reading or listening to the previous book (book 11: The Reverse of the Medal) and being slightly less enthusiastic. Letter of the Marque (book 12) is the excellent conclusion to the saga of Jack Aubrey and his troubles with the Navy. What’s more, Letter of the Marque is the exciting (climatic) wrap-up of the troubles between Stephen Maturin and Diana Villiers. PATRICK O’BRIAN DOES NOT DISAPPOINT.
A note on Patrick Tull vs Simon Vance. Due to the couple of poor reviews of the Simon Vance version I did decide to switch to Patrick Tull and purchased his narration. But after three chapters I stopped listening to the Patrick Tull and purchased the Simon Vance version. Simon Vance is the unequivocal master of multiple voices. Each character has a completely unique voice of his/her own as if you were listening to a movie. And each voice is read not only with complete individuality, but with a distinct depth of emotion (you really feel that you’re getting to know each individual). I found Patrick Tull to be more two-dimensional and wooden in his performance as compared to Simon Vance. In all fairness I think it probably comes down to who you are used to (I’ve had about 10 books under my belt with Simon Vance prior to that).
Bottom line advice: If you are starting the series, start with Simon Vance. If you are continuing the series stay with the narrator you know (although it’s hard not to strongly recommend the Vance versions because they are so good). With regard to the book itself, if it’s been awhile since you’ve read the series, I might recommend re-reading book 11 (The Reverse of the Medal) just before starting Letter of the Marque since Marque is written as a grand conclusion to it and prior books. You will not be disappointed with this book. Audible is a wonderful company for making these great works possible in such an accessible format for today’s technology (I listen on my iPhone everyday on the treadmill at the gym).
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